After catching a bit of sport at the soccer match, I spent the following day around the Darling Harbor area of Sydney. The first stop was the Queen Victoria Building which I ran into almost as soon as I got off the train. Normally a shopping mall wouldn't be a must-see for me, however the exterior design drew me in and I found the interior to be even cooler with its mosaic floors. I grabbed a cup of cappuccino and watched well-dressed women with designer bags walk past ridiculously expensive stores.
After the mall, I headed to the harbor. The overcast skies soon rained down on me. I decided to skip the tourist activities requiring money – the aquarium, world's largest IMAX theater, etc.
There were orange flags throughout the downtown area as Australia Day was quickly approaching. It's a national holiday to celebrate the founding of Australia by Europeans, and seems to be akin to America's July 4th. Basically, it's an excuse to have a BBQ, beer, and a 3-day weekend.
I finished my afternoon's stroll with a walk through Chinatown. Paddy's Markets were closed, and I wouldn't make it back to them. It's an Irish-themed street market with lots of cheap goods.
After 24 hours in Sydney, I started to feel like I could be in the United States. It felt comfortable. The transit system was extensive, yet information was well communicated. I was impressed by the LCD screens in the train stops which seemed light years ahead of the LED displays we just recently got in Washington, DC.
In the evening, I went out with some people from my hostel to Scubar. Our hostel had an entertainment guide whose job it was to take backpackers out to a different bar each night with the promise of a free drink. I think it's a way to welcome all the foreigners who come to Sydney and Australia with the intention to stick around and work. Scubar was a basement bar frequented by backpackers, and it was a mess of drunken people. Somehow I managed to enjoy it for a few beers before heading back to home base – King's Cross.